These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mrs Violet Page in the mid 1980s as part of the research for his book “The Story of Wivenhoe”. These notes have been re-typed by Ann Jones from Nicholas Butler’s original notes and posted here by Frances Belsham.
What Mrs Page told Nick Butler
Mrs Coralie Clarke is the lady in the ferry boat picture in the ECS of November 1987 (NB has a copy) The boys are (left) Barrie Eves and (right) John Harris. The ferryman is Arthur “Tich” Bell, one of the four brothers of Mrs Page.
We used to get up at about 6 am. We lived in the Ferry House. My brother used to serve behind the bar in the Rose and Crown a lot. My mother’s great-aunt used to keep the Rose and Crown.
I remember the opening of the King George V Playing Field. We had to go to school in our new clothes, after that we all had to go back to school that day. No answering back in those days. All my brothers went up to the Boys School in the High Street.
Mr Flux used to keep the Holy Joe Shop. It was a success with him. Mr Chick used to have Mallett’s, they sold everything, sold oil. We lived down Blyth Lane. It had old gas lamps. I used to watch ?? go down every Saturday afternoon. Bullocks used to go to the butcher’s shop where Terry Endean now lives. They used to hold the bullocks up and shoot them. The pigs used to cry out. They only cleaned the blood up the week before (or they never did) One of the bullocks got out and went down West Street to join Farmer Bowes’ cows on the upstream saltings. In those days Bowes’ cows used to come right down to the wall. They went down Station Road, down Anglesea Road, Queens Road and down the High Street, Station Road and the wall.
Mrs Govan in Stanley Road
Mrs Bowes’ daughter. I can remember during the war when the soldiers were here they used to have the British Legion for the soldiers at night. They used to go down the British Legion for cups of tea and cakes. I can remember because I used to run errands then. Mr Cracknell at the bakery, Mrs Cracknell used to keep that shop. I can remember Mrs Cracknell to pick up this great tray during the war, I was about 12 I imagine. They used to go down there, one was the tank corps, the tanks were loaded up on the trains, I can see them soldiers today in them carriages. They used to have a siding at the back of the station. They were in that siding at the back, I can remember us children going down and waving to them. And the airborne troops. Tanks about 1940, I thought the old bridge was going, they were big tanks and the row they used to make.
Slaughter house going up to the war, I should imagine they gave it up during the war. Animals used to take the wrong turning. Two or three taken to the slaughterhouse. Not killed immediately. I used to walk down that lane and I could hear them making a noise all that weekend.
Only one light down Blyth Lane. Only one bullock each time, about six pigs. I was born down there. I can remember we used to have a tap outside. Just a tap shared between four houses, on the other side between three. No inside toilets. On washing days were allowed water from the bakery fires. Had tin baths from the shed in front of the fire.
I remember my four brothers were in the Army and my brother Tich in the merchant Navy. James, the eldest, worked for Hector Barr. Before the Nottage was built was a yard. Hector Barr put up the Nottage. Hector Barr bought our row of houses at the end of the war. Seven houses down Blythe Lane.
Love Lane and Hog Lane. Those names were known to my mother. Opposite the Congregational Church used to be a butcher’s shop.
I was always down on the Quay. In those days we used to spend hours in the mud where they had the One Design and that.
I can remember the Rosabelle. Sunk outside Gibraltar during the war.
During the war I was not allowed out at night, we used to listen to the radio. Knitting parties at the premises next to the Black Buoy. They used to go down so many nights in the evening and knit those things.
Incendiary bomb over the playing fields. You used to see the doodlebugs come over. They used to come up the river. You would see the odd one now and again. It looked like a long pointed thing with the tail alight, came over during the day.
I worked there (Foresters Hall) Mr James Ellis bought it and it became Gainsboro products. A lot of outside work. Two benches, machine bench and cutting out bench.
My father went on the dole, he used to go to Alma Street. I had to sign on there. In 1945 I worked at Turner’s factory opposite Margery Dean Antiques making sports blazers, during the war we used to make Army jackets. Beginners did the sleeves and the backs. That was in Stockwell Street. (The head factory of the firm) Used to collect the wages every week in Colchester. So many stitches to the inch. If you had too many you had to unpick your garment. Used to make various blazers, white blazers and Navy blazers. Alpaca coats. A job to make. You had to make the collars lie flat. Charge hand very strict. Mrs Langley. £2 a week, which I thought was wonderful. Left school in 1944, started work next day. Some children were lucky to have parents with a bit of money. Times were sometimes hard. I always had good food. My father used to work for the Ministry of Supply. He was in the Navy in WW1. I can remember him going to the dole – 30/-d I worked at Turners about 18 months. Turners Factory: Carrie Cross. Park Road, Denton Terrace or Colne Terrace. The work used to come down in a van. When I worked there only the upper place was open. They used to have those old steam irons.
My brother had the big sailing barge; Michael Bligh was the skipper. I can remember those big old red sails. The boat usually stopped at Mistley. Another used to work for Worsp.
Both grandfathers were captains of these big yachts.
James Harvey: Woodland Way
Salvation Army when I was a young girl. Hall behind the Post Office was a Salvation Army Citadel. Not after the second world war. My father was captain of the Wivenhoe Fire Brigade. A trolley